Some startling after effects face Wolverine, Panther, and some of the
other members of the X Men
|A week had passed
since Danielle was rescued from Stryker and his renegade soldiers.
Logan blamed himself for letting her down and he constantly
hovered over her. He sensed Danielle's troubles - he smelled fear
whenever he was around her, even if she were smiling and apparently
happy. Jean knew it would take some time for Danielle to
really recover. Danielle was trying to hide the painful memories of the
torture, and like Logan, took to her new body and claws as if they were
always there. Yet, she had been so severely tortured into submission
that Jean worried about her having the nightmares like Logan had
suffered from. Because Logan worked with her and never was far from
her, the after effects of the torture were carefully monitored. He was
gentle and understanding having experienced the same tortures before.
Danielle tried to go on with normal life at the school, but
having suffered a dramatic change in herself.
She retained her new gifts – her increased strength and metal claws, and a definite change in personality. She seemed more feline than ever before - hiding her pain and being a bit cold at times. Logan began to really worry about her. There were times she remained alone - going for walks late at night or sleeping outside in the grass instead of his bed. They were close but failed to be intimate. He refused to push her - letting her tell him when she wanted to be close and when she wanted to be alone. Logan understood this all too well - for many years, he led the solitary life.
"How is Danielle doing?" Charles asked.
"I can't be sure. Physically, she is fine other than the augmentation. Emotionally, I am having a hard time reading her," Jean replied.
"I have tried too. She has put up such defenses that even I am having a hard time reaching into her mind," Charles replied.
Jean looked outside the window. Danielle was laying in the snow and crying.
"It is so hard to understand why she is doing these things," Jean said.
"How is Logan handling it?" Charles asked.
"He's being really good about it - letting her have some space. I know he is really concerned," Jean replied.
"It is almost as if she has periodic regressions - maybe reliving some of the trauma. Have you talked with her lately?" Charles probed.
"She just tells me she feels fine and that she accepts what happened to her. Of course, I don't believe her," Jean replied. "You know I watched her push Logan off very threateningly. She was laying outside quite like she is now. He went to her and asked her to join him and I could see her eyes turn gold, she coiled up, released her claws and striked out at him like a frightened cat."
"Maybe you need to get her to open up more. Something has happened that she is hiding and we have to consider her safety now. With this, she might be targetted yet again. If Stryker had ways to control mutants, then Danielle would make a valuable weapon," Charles replied.
"Like they tried to do with Logan?" Jean asked.
"I'm afraid so. We saw it once already. I am sure news of this was spread out amongst other mutant haters," Charles replied.
They looked outside again to find Logan lifting Danielle up and bringing her inside. She clutched onto him desperately.
"I am going to check on her and see if Logan needs any help," Jean said.
Jean knocked on Logan's door. She could hear him softly inviting her in. Upon entering the room, she found Logan and Danielle in his bed. Danielle was sound asleep curled up in fetal position with the bedsheets wrapped tightly around herself and clutching her pillow tightly. Logan lay by her side on top of the covers and gently stroking her arm.
"How's she doing?" Jean asked.
"She's terrified. If I so much as move she will fly up," Logan responded with great concern.
"Like a frightened and beaten animal?" Jean asked.
Logan nodded affirmatively.
"Something more happened than just the experimentation. I can feel it in her. She won't let me near her, if you know what I mean," Logan said.
"I know she is repressing her emotions. She is hiding them so well that even Charles can't get into her mind," Jean replied.
Jean continued to observe Danielle. It took her some time to settle down and become more like her old self, but Panther was always on guard. Her senses constantly were at work and she moved about the campus as if she were constantly afraid - even her own shadow would send her into periodic frenzies of fear. Logan could tell something was still horribly wrong with Danielle.
Down in the medlab, Jean was giving Danielle another check up.
"Danielle, how are things going between you and Logan?" Jean asked.
"Fine. I just wish he would stop hovering over me all the time," Danielle replied.
"He's worried about you.," Jean replied.
"He feels this ridiculous need to protect me and I hate it sometimes," Danielle growled.
"Are you two..." Jean trailed off hoping Danielle knew where the questioning was going.
Danielle looked oddly at Jean.
"You mean bein' intimate?" Danielle asked.
"Yes," Jean replied. "Look, not to sound too blunt, but I know you two have a very active sex life."
Jean quickly stopped as she observed Danielle's eyes widen with incredible fear. She began to draw back and Jean immediately sensed something. Stretching her telepathy to the limits, Jean entered Danielle's mind. Danielle opened up just enough mentally to let Jean see more of the frightening visions that have been plaguing her psyche. As Danielle backed off again, she began to get up and scream and cry. Jean quickly leaped towards her as Danielle broke down and cried wildly.
"Let it go, Danielle. Let it go," Jean said trying to comfort her. She saw enough to know what had happened to Danielle.
Hitting the com line, she called for Logan.
Rushing into the medlab, Logan slid down on his knees and embraced Danielle, who was crouched into the corner of the room crying madly. He looked up to Jean who was getting a syringe prepared. Logan held Danielle still as Jean injected her.
"They hurt me! They hurt me!" Danielle cried.
Logan held her tight trying to comfort her as the drug began racing through her body. As she became subdued and limp, Logan looked again to Jean.
"It's a mild sedative. She should sleep for a couple of hours. I gave her enough without overdosing. It took a lot of study to determine proper doses with the two of you and your healing factors," Jean said.
They placed her up on the exam table where she would sleep.
"What the hell happened?" Logan asked.
"She broke finally. I know what happened to her now," Jean said.
Jean sat down at her desk and took off her glasses. Rubbing her eyes and her temples, Logan could smell the scent of fear from her.
"Are ya gonna tell me?" Logan asked angrily.
"They not only tortured her in much the same manner as you were but they abused her - tormented her into releasing her animal side. I saw visions of how they did it - starvation and brutally beating her," Jean said.
Logan sat down in the chair in front of her desk. He looked over to Danielle who was peacefully sleeping.
"There's more, isn't there?" he asked.
Jean took in a deep breath. Logan sunk down into his chair. He knew something serious was about to be said.
"I'm afraid so. I don't know how to tell you this," Jean said.
"Just tell me, Jean. I have to know," Logan replied.
"They raped her - several of them. They took turns beating her into fighting and then they took turns raping her," Jean said.
Logan's face paled out. Jean could see him restraining his anger and watched him get up and walk over to the exam table. His hand gently traced around Danielle's face.
"Is she ok? I mean, besides the emotional pain?" Logan asked.
"She's fine. But, Logan, I think you should let her know you know. Be as supportive as you can," Jean said.
They took Danielle to his room and laid her down in his bed. He curled up beside her and gently stroked her hair.
"I'm going to put a call into General Miller to add rape to the charges filed against those who were arrested," Jean said.
Logan's eyes narrowed. He knew deep down in his very being John led the attacks on Danielle. His only solice was that John was now dead, thanks to Cyclops. He looked down upon Danielle again. His woman had been hurt in ways he could only begin to think that death was too kind a sentence for.
When she woke up several hours later, Logan looked into her eyes. The tears began welling up and Danielle cried again.
"I know, darlin'. I know. And if I get the chance, I'm gonna kill them bastards for what they did to ya," Logan said.
Danielle held onto him sobbing softly into his chest. Marie entered the room hearing Danielle crying. She sat on Logan's bed and stroked Danielle's hair. Danielle turned to her and Marie embraced her. She looked into Logan's eyes seeing the restrained hate and anger.
"I'll sit with her if you want to go for a walk," Marie said.
Logan silently agreed and walked down to the Danger Room. Down there, he set up a new program - the most violent one he could imagine. He let his fury go - taking out his rage on the holographic images of adversaries. When the last of the programmed opponents fell victim to Logan's anger, he dropped to his knees and howled with rage. All he could think of was how his woman was hurting - how those bastards violated her womanhood and how much he wanted to kill the survivors for what they did to her.
Logan tried to work with Danielle. They went for afternoon walks, played games with the children, and allowing her to fight him in the Danger Room. He would allow her fury to be taken out on him - several times she would beat on him until she drew blood. Her release of anger and emotional hurt proved good therapy for her. It was a great way for her to come to grips with some of her troubles and to spend quality time with Logan. Ever since she broke down and released her hidden emotions, she began to heal. Her psychological wounds were tended to by both Jean and Logan. And the children all did their best to make Danielle smile.
In the meantime, her skills in fighting became polished and Panther eventually became the newest member of the X Men Team. Logan balked at her joining at first until they went out on thier first mission together. She had indeed become his match and he was glad she wasn't his rival and adversary. Her strength was incredible, her skills unmatched except by Wolverine, and she was cunning - a perfect hunter quite like the Wolverine.
Danielle sat outside looking up into the clear night sky. It was now New Year's Eve and the Professor had arranged a special display of fireworks for the children. Everyone had gathered in the courtyard to watch. Logan sat down by Danielle. He put his arm around her pulling her close. Danielle looked over to Scott and Jean both sitting with their arms around each other.
"I know why you loved her. She's really a classy woman," Danielle said.
"So are you. And, it was wrong of me. I am not really a bad guy. I admit I can be a jackass. I knew it wasn't gonna happen. She loves Scott, even though I think he is a dork," he said.
"Logan, it's ok. I'm just glad we are together again," Danielle said.
She looked up into the sky watching the fireworks with great excitement. Logan was not enthused with the fireworks tending to
spend the time looking at her. She had somewhat returned to her old self, but she was still a bit different than what he knew from before.
As he was deep in thought, he realized Bobby and Rogue were missing. But, Danielle got his attention again with her excitement. She then looked deeply into his eyes and he kissed her.
"I love ya," he whispered.
Danielle held onto him and kissed him again. Scott jabbed Jean gently in the side.
"Hey, looks like Logan's got his own fireworks going," Scott said.
Jean smiled watching Logan and Danielle head inside for some privacy. It would be the first time of sharing intimacy since the
Morning arrived and Logan was sitting outside with his cigar. Bobby sat down next to him, grabbed the cigar, and took a long hard drag from it. Logan looked at him strangely as Bobby handed it back.
"Hum…what's up with ya?" Logan asked.
Bobby couldn't say – he had a smile from ear to ear across his face.
"Don't even answer that," Logan said knowing exactly what had happened with Bobby. Logan smelled Marie all over Bobby.
"Somehow I think this year will be a special one. You were right, Logan," Bobby said.
"You sly little devil. Now, whatever ya do, don't break Marie's heart or I'll have ta hurt ya," Logan replied extending the claws on his left hand.
"You got it, man. I don't dare cross you," Bobby said with a laugh.
Danielle was in her room packing up her files and clothes when Marie walked in.
"Where are ya goin'?" Rogue asked.
"The Professor is allowing Logan and I to move in together," Danielle replied.
"Together?" Rogue asked.
"Yes, together. I have decided to stay on permanently as your teacher," Danielle said.
"I'm glad you two got back together again. I mean really together," Marie replied.
All of a sudden, Marie began to giggle uncontrollably.
"OK, give it up. Why are you so giddy this morning?" Danielle asked.
Marie couldn't speak – she just giggled more.
"You and Bobby?" Danielle asked further.
Marie nodded affirmatively and with a sly look in her eye.
"The Professor helped me learn total control of my power – it happened when I helped Logan to save you. But, Bobby and I...ya know, we found the way too - finally," Marie said.
She touched Danielle's face without her gloves on. There was no damage to Danielle. Danielle hugged Marie tightly.
"Oh, girl. I am so happy for you," Danielle said.
"I can help you pack if you need help," Marie said.
"Sure. Then, maybe you and I need to go out shopping later. This is reason to celebrate and you and I both need some new clothes," Danielle said.